It’s Christmas Eve and I find myself wavering back and forth between joy and happiness and guilt and worry.
In other words, I am fully human. Even though I somehow think I will get superpowers when holidays come around and I will cease to have stress and grief and daily troubles. After all, it’s Christmas! Right?
This Christmas I have all my children home, the first time in three years. My heart is full. Our house is cheerful, we were able to get presents for everyone, we have everything we need and a little extra. We’ve had a great advent season of daily bible readings with the kids. We’ve had great church services helping us bring our focus on Jesus. It has been a good Christmas season.
And then, at the same time, a friend of mine unexpectedly died a couple days ago. Another friend of mine is in the process of losing her mom to cancer. Another friend just lost a famly member unexpectedly. So much grief. So much heaviness.
Kind of like the first Christmas.
Mary, pregnant and unmarried, having to deal with all the presumptions people are making of her. Joseph with a new wife, but in name only, watching her carry someone else’s child, not the way he was planning on starting his marriage. A trip to Bethlehem because of the whims of a conquering nation. Bad timing, Mary is about to give birth. Then, they get to Bethlehem, the baby is definitely coming, right now. No place to stay. No warm welcome. No comfortable place to settle in. Birth. Mary’s first. First labor, not knowing what to expect. Not knowing if you will survive the process. And then the baby is here. But no proud grandparents to announce the news to friends and family. No friends and family.
But then a bunch of shepherds come running in. Telling stories about angels and heavenly hosts. And I’m sure Mary and Joseph remembered vividly their own encounters with angels. And there is of course this brand new baby filling their hearts with joy as only a new baby can.
Grief and Joy. Suffering and Hope. Christmas.
We are in good company.
This season I pray that we can have peace. That we can accept our grief but give ourselves permission to have joy as well. That we can have happiness and not feel guilty for feeling sad at the same time.
In the end, we cling to the hope that All is Well.
“All is well all is well
Lift up your voices and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior”
Michael W. Smith
Emmanuel, God is with Us. We go through our trials here on earth, but we are no longer alone. We have hope for a future with Jesus where every tear will be wiped away. No more sorrow. No more grief.
Until that time comes, we move forward. Tears in our eyes. A smile on our face. Grief, Joy. Christmas.
May you all have a Merry Christmas filled with joy and may you have peace to feel all the emotions that face you this season.